Monday, April 11, 2011

The Rule of the First

We all agree that cheating is bad. It shouldn't be done. It should be avoided at all costs. You never want to be the other woman (unless you were one of my friends in college who thought that a guy cheating with you meant you were special because he was risking something). And so on. I can see you all nodding and smiling from behind your computer screens right now.

We are all in agreement. We are all entirely virtuous. Almost entirely. Mostly. In theory.

But there is a secret—a little discussed, but much adhered to axiom, referred to as "The Rule of the First."

And now some of you are starting to shift uncomfortably.

You know what I'm talking about.

Under normal circumstances, you would never bed a married man—unless you had been with him first… before her… before the current wife. You had him first, and there is a little part of you that will always feel like you have a prior claim… a greater claim.

I think about my own situations—one in particular. While I have zero interest in rekindling a relationship with The Ex anymore, I recognize that he would be my greatest temptation. There is simply too much history for me to say with 100% honesty that there wouldn't be at least a moment where I would consider it. And that's crazy because I'm the most law abiding, inflexible, uptight person you are going to meet. But late at night at a friend's wedding with wine and memories flowing… danger.

I'd like to believe I wouldn't give into it. I'd like to believe he wouldn't give in to it. But that whisper of "mine" and "first" would always be there.

I've seen the normally morally sound fall to it.

"He realizes he never should have married her."

"We never should have ended it."

"They are only still together because of the kids."

"He's never been able to forget us."

"We know it's wrong, but we've never felt as connected to other people as we do one another."

"It's our second chance."

"I was there first."

There is no doubt that "The Rule of the First" leads down a path of tears and frustration—and the possible burning of his gifts on a front lawn (I may have meant that euphemistically). So why is it so powerful? Why do the generally sane fall victim to the delusion? Is it all ego? Is it winning (and not in the Charlie Sheen sense)? Will you end up feeling triumph in addition to the connection because he's choosing you (however temporarily)? Or is there really just a sense that you were there first and that the next girlfriend/wife is only an interloper who can't possibly understand the depth of what you shared?



Helen said...

Hmmm. I don't have any exes I'm interested in rekindling something with so it's hard for me to see how this rule would help me in any way. I also have a hard time with the idea that a guy's 7th grade girlfriend might think she has a legitimate claim to him based on the fact that she was there before his current wife. I have to say I reject this rule entirely. And people who appear uptight and morally rigid on the surface secretly want to be bad. I'm just saying.

Dee Murray said...

Ah yes. The Rule Of First. Been there. Used that. Won him back. Then sorta lost him to a psychologically unbalanced crazy-person, but that's only temporary and another post entirely. Though I agree with Helen that anything before college doesn't count. I've definitely had that sense of entitlement and mentally took it one step further: I'm not worried about your current gal because you're here with me now and if you really WERE serious about her, you wouldn't be. Take THAT Sloppy Seconds! I get the Rule Of the First. Totally.

Three Hundred Sixty Five said...

Oh, dear. I hope you do not go there....there's nothing but pain (at least later on), and regret. My philosphy is that once that road has been crossed, I never (ever) go there again. The Rule Of First? It's an excuse to think about it. But don''s over.